Naviance: The Unsung Hero of College Applications

By Rachel Ackerman

By now, most Byram Hills seniors will have submitted their college applications, and many of them may have already been accepted to one or more institutions. Students applying to multiple schools often work tirelessly throughout the fall semester to complete all of their questions, essays, and supplements—a difficult thing to balance with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Most BHHS students are familiar with the Common App, the most popular platform through which seniors can easily apply to multiple schools. However, many are unaware of one of the most integral tools of the college application process: Naviance. Those who are familiar with Naviance might know it for its “scattergrams” and its tools for submitting teacher recommendation, but it is important that all students at BHHS, especially juniors and seniors, are aware of all of the tools, resources, and uses of Naviance.

Searching for Colleges

Most students receive their Naviance login credentials during the second semester of their sophomore year, and many may be surprised to learn that they can begin to use Naviance right away. There is a very useful college search tool that can be helpful when students are beginning to formulate a list of colleges they are interested in. Through Naviance’s search tool, students can filter their options in favor of a specific size, location, and other preferences in order to explore their options with ease, giving them a personalized college search.

Organizing Your College Lists

Once students have a relatively strong idea of some of the schools they might want to apply to, they can begin to add institutions to their “Colleges I’m Thinking About” list. This list allows students to see their potential colleges lined up next to one another, and it also allows guidance counselors to see where a student might be thinking about applying to. By utilizing this tool, students and guidance counselors can have a more easily facilitated flow of information with regard to their college lists. Below is an example of a “Colleges I’m Thinking About” list:

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Once a student has decided that they would like to apply to a school, they can then add it to their “Colleges I’m Applying To” list. These two lists are very helpful in organizing and providing information about colleges to the student, counselor, and parents, making the college search process run even more smoothly.

Now, What Exactly is a Scattergram?

If you’ve heard of Naviance, you’ve probably heard of the term “scattergram.” A scattergram is a dot plot graph (with each dot representing a BHHS student applicant) of students’ test scores versus their GPA. While these numbers are not the only indicator of a student’s qualifications for acceptance to a college, these graphs can provide insight into the type of BHHS student that gets accepted to any given university. For example, here is a scattergram for Binghamton University:

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Demonstrated in this scattergram are the acceptance results from anonymous BHHS applicants to Binghamton, as well as the SAT scores and GPAs for these applicants. Again, while these are not the only factors involved in college admissions, scattergrams can be a useful tool for a student wishing to see if they would fit in with the rest of that college’s applicant pool. In fact, once a student has taken a standardized test (PSAT, SAT, or ACT), they will actually be able to view their own “dot” on a given college’s scattergram.

Application Materials

This is also one of the more well-known uses of Naviance. Apart from the actual application, there are many more materials that must be sent to a college in order for them to review a student’s entire file. Materials required by schools often include teacher recommendations, guidance counselor recommendations, high school transcripts, and secondary school reports. At BHHS, the guidance department utilizes Naviance to electronically submit these very important documents. First, a student must link their Naviance account to their Common App account. Then, using a student’s “Colleges I’m Applying To” list, each guidance counselor will submit the student’s high school transcript, a secondary school report (an overview of the high school as a whole), and a counselor letter of recommendation to Naviance. In addition, a student can request letters of recommendation from their teachers, which are also submitted to Naviance. These materials are then transmitted to the Common App, and when a student submits an application via the Common App, the materials are sent to the college. It should be noted that a student does not have to use the Common App, or even Naviance for that matter, to submit these materials, but the guidance department finds it easiest to do so using these methods.

Not all students love or use Naviance’s extraneous features, such as the scattergrams or search tools. However, it is well-known throughout the BHHS community that without Naviance, the college process would be a lot more difficult. Over the years in which the program has been used, students, teachers, counselors, and others have expressed extreme gratitude for the tools and services provided by Naviance, and it is undoubtedly the “unsung hero” of college applications at BHHS.